The history of the Ancient Egyptian is full of some powerful and legendary women who left an indelible mark on the history and are still a huge topic of interest to the world’s scholars today. There is still a lot to be learned about the women of ancient Egypt but what we already know is still pretty incredible. These bold women showed an immense amount of resilience in the face of tough male-dominated societies. Despite the challenges and barriers they faced, these women of ancient Egypt were able to take hold of a lot of power and leave their own mark on ancient Egyptian history.
We have compiled a list of the most famous and extraordinary women to come out of ancient Egypt, from bold leaders and secret queens to powerful wives who yielded power despite the odds. Ancient had many powerful queens and steadfast wives that a lot of people have no idea about. We made sure to highlight the most iconic ones as well as the lesser-known women of ancient Egypt to give you a full look of the wide spectrum of powerful women.
She is of course the most well-known of all the women of ancient Egypt, the great Egyptian queen has been the topic of many movies, books and is perhaps one of the most iconic figures to come out of ancient history. Once she took power, she brought back the Ptolemaic Dynasty to its former glory due to her quick wit, refined social skills and deep understanding of how to govern. Although not much is known about her childhood years, it was obvious that during this time she would be trained to be an excellent and well-polished ruler. From a young age, the queen was always very interested in Egypt and all things related to the country.
Upon her father passing away, Cleopatra was married to her younger brother, effectively making them the brother-sister royal family. Her brother assumed the throne and she ruled alongside him. Over the course of their reign, the couple expanded the huge empire all the way to the east in Libya and up north to Cyprus. Cleopatra was not satisfied with this co-ruling structure and wanted to usurp power all for herself. She basically did a coup on her brother and tried to basically erase him from all the records. However, this ended up backfiring and her brother retaliated by overthrowing her, leading her to have to run away to Alexandria for safety.
Aside from these issues and the fact that Egypt was annexed by Augustus Caesar during her rule, starting the Roman era of ancient Egyptian history, she was overall very loved by her people and was regarded as a loving and benevolent leader who truly loved her country.
Queen Hatshepsut is perhaps the most iconic and legendary. She ruled Egypt for more than twenty years, earning her the title as the longest queen to reign Egypt. She was very powerful, successful and a prolific builder. She was not known as a queen, however, during her time. She actually dressed up as a king and worse a false beard, pretending to be a man the whole time. She was always known as a male king. No one knew the truth that she was actually a female monarch.
She was the daughter of Pharaoh Thutmose I and actually took power acting as regent for Thutmose III, who was her stepson and nephew at the same time. She was also known as the wife of the god Amun. She ended up passing the title to her daughter later.
Under the rule of Hatshepsut, Egypt saw a lot of developments and improvements from economics to infrastructure and even in foreign relations. Trade went up, a lot of monuments and buildings were built during this time and even wars were executed with great success.
Living during the Early Dynastic Period, Merneith was a queen married to Djet and was the mother king Den who also went by the name Hor-Den. Following her husband’s death, the queen assumed power and started ruling as regent. Since this is from such an early period, evidence is quite scarce and we do not know many details. However, based on the items found in her tomb, it is thought that she could have possibly ruled as a king. Her grave and all of its belongings look very similar to other kings’. Her tomb was huge and featured a massive underground chamber, solar boat, sacrificial items and even burial spaces for her servants who would serve her in the afterworld. She ruled Egypt for a decade.
One of the most iconic faces of history, Neferiti is seen as one of the most powerful and impactful women of ancient Egypt. She was the beautiful and supportive wife of Akhenaton and was always by his side as queen from 1353 to 1336 B.C. During her time ruling, ancient Egyptian civilization went through tremendous change due to her husband making major and heretical changes to the religious and social structure. This was a period of upheaval and extreme reforms during the New Kingdom.
Famous more than Cleopatra perhaps, Nefertiti’s iconic face is known by almost everyone on the planet. This is due to the spread of her bust that was carved by the famed Thutmose in 1345 BC. The bust was discovered in the early 20th century and ended up circulating the globe, making her face one of the most iconic images to come out of antiquity. Her image is seen as beautiful, strong and firm. She was definitely one of the most extraordinary women of ancient Egypt.
She is special because she is thought to be the first-ever queen in ancient Egyptian history. She was the mother of Hor-Aha and was married to Egypt’s first king, Menes. Not much is known about her but is thought that she lived during the very beginning of the First Dynasty period.